It's a long way in cultural, political and sexual mores from Alfred Lord Tennyson to Carol Ann Duffy - but now the Poet Laureateship links them both. After many weeks of speculation Duffy was appointed yesterday to the role. I've got to admit that I've had a bit of a block as far as appreciating Duffy's poetry is concerned - but I'm sure it's probably just a personal twinge of literary myopia. Everyone else seems to love her. As I write this I'm making a mental note to read more of her stuff and perhaps form a more enlightened opinion. This poem of hers, however, I liked immediately on hearing it read on the radio today:
A Child's Sleep
I stood at the edge of my child's sleep
hearing her breathe;
although I could not enter there,
I could not leave.
Her sleep was a small wood,
perfumed with flowers;
dark, peaceful, sacred,
acred in hours.
And she was the spirit that lives
in the heart of such woods;
without time, without history,
I spoke her name, a pebble dropped
in the still night,
and saw her stir, both open palms
cupping their soft light;
then went to the window. The greater dark
outside the room
gazed back, maternal, wise,
with its face of moon.
(RIP: UA Fanthorpe, who died last Tuesday, 28 April - another outstanding woman poet. Though I don't really like the term 'woman poet' - after all, you don't generally say a 'man poet' or 'male poet', do you, you just say 'poet'; however, Duffy herself has nothing against the term, feeling that women poets often differ quite widely from men poets in many of their themes and how they treat them, eg the subject of childbirth. And perhaps chocolate?)